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Asos Hopes On-Demand Manufacturing Can Mitigate Waste

Asos is jumping into the on-demand manufacturing trend.

In tandem with one of its suppliers, Fashion-Enter Ltd., the online fashion giant is implementing the Kornit Presto digital direct-to-fabric printer to bring rapid textile printing into its offering while cutting back on textile and water waste. The companies will “explore the future opportunities presented by on-demand manufacturing,” according to a statement, indicating that the Kornit deployment could be the first of more on-demand plans for Asos and its suppliers.

These production capabilities will enable Asos and Fashion-Enter Ltd. to imprint designs on multiple fabrics at the push of a button, through a lower-impact production process that has zero water waste and aims to accelerate production speeds by cutting out typical dyeing processes.

Working collaboratively with both Asos and Kornit Digital, the Wales-based supplier will develop a new in-house “micro-factory concept,” designed to eliminate waste, risks, limitations and pollutants from current outdated batch production.

“Adopting innovative new technologies like Kornit Presto is vital if we are to reduce the impact of fashion right across the supply chain, in line with the aims of our Fashion with Integrity program,” said Simon Platts, responsible sourcing director at Asos. “Streamlined print and workflow means we can explore the full potential of this innovative technology, further enhance our ability to react quickly to seasonal shifts in demand, and establish more efficient, lower-impact production processes.”

Neither Asos nor Fashion-Enter confirmed the type of merchandise that Presto would be used for.

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Aligning with Asos’ continued pivot to deliver a more eco-conscious offering, Presto is designed for sustainable use, in that it produces no water waste, Kornit says. In March, Asos debuted its Spring/Summer 2021 denim collection that uses responsibly sourced cotton and 50 percent less water during washing and finishing compared with conventional jeans. While conventional methods typically use 60-70 liters of water per jean, its responsible denim collection uses under 33 liters per jean, Asos said.

The e-commerce retailer also launched its first Circular Design Collection in September, which sold 8,000 units in the first six weeks of availability, and is collaborating with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Centre for Sustainable Fashion on a circular design roadmap.

“The future of fashion will be driven by e-commerce and a more conscientious consumer, one who demands unlimited means of self-expression and will shop only with brands that live up to their values,” said Chris Govier, managing director of Kornit Digital’s European operations KDEU.

Fashion-Enter’s team up with Asos comes at a time when the retailer is raising the stakes for supplier standards. Asos suppliers must sign a Transparency Pledge, which requires signatories to publicly list all of the factories within the manufacturing phase of their supply chains on a regular basis. They then need to map their U.K. supply chain, provide evidence that they have visibility into their manufacturing in the nation, identify present supply-chain risks and then plan ways to mitigate them.

While the transparency initiative is more designed to bring social responsibility up to speed at suppliers, Fashion-Enter’s work in the digital printing initiative shows that the supplier wants to work closer with the retailer and build transparency in other ways.

In Kornit’s pigment-based digital textile production capabilities and workflow solutions, Fashion-Enter Ltd. sees an answer for brands serving the needs of today’s consumers, while reducing inventory waste and improving supply chain management and garment quality.

“We have worked with Asos since 2008 and understand their commitment to quality ethical production and speed-of-response fashion,” Jenny Holloway, CEO at Fashion-Enter Ltd., said in a statement. “Our designer clients from our Fashion Studio services will also benefit from a fully-integrated design service with the Presto printer incorporating one-piece flow, further pushing the boundaries in the consumer’s voice for transparent speed-of-response fashion. We foresee this unique collaboration as a major step-change in fashion today creating a new ethical and sustainable fashion community.”

Like its Allegro direct-to-garment digital printer, the Kornit Presto aims to eliminate the need for external process steps such as pre-treatment, steaming and washing, and to serve as a “one-stop shop” for printing, softening and drying. Unlike Allegro, Presto now includes the NeoPigment Robusto Softener, which is designed to deliver a softer hand-feel to the printed apparel.

Kornit Digital most recently unveiled its new Max printing technology in April. The first iteration of Max technology is now commercially available in the Kornit Atlas Max, a carbon-neutral, industrial-scale direct-to-garment (DTG) production system, providing color-matching capabilities and a vivid and durable color range.

A key feature of Kornit’s Max technology is XDi, which delivers 3D capabilities for high-density graphic decoration that can simulate embroidery and vinyl heat transfer in a single, waste-free process.